OSS CLUES, noss news

traces to follow

by Matt Chinworth

Readers are invited to use and to contribute to this log of literary discoveries, clues or rumours. 

The merest trace may be worth a follow-up.  So, whether you've merely come across a hearsay report of an intriguing story-title, or whether you've actually read a little-known but mentionable tale, or whether any info of intermediate exactitude has come into your possession, don't be shy to share it.

2018 November 20th:   


From Dylan Jeninga:

Radiance is far and away one of the most vibrant books I've read this year. I think you'd love it, except for the occasional spot of foul language, especially when the book briefly lapses into film noir. Also, like Fury, the focus isn't really on the worlds visited, but on something else - in this case, an exploration of how we construct our own narratives around our lives. It's as much a love letter to classic movies as classic science fiction, and in fact, the two intersect. I think the authors inspiration was old films like A Trip to the Moon, although the character of the worlds is decidedly grounded in pulp scifi. So far, we've gotten pretty good looks at Luna, Venus, Uranus, Neptune and Pluto, although I hesitate to spoil anything. 

It's purely dream-driven, and you'll find no technobabble or hard-scifi-considerations. In fact, "dream" is a good noun for it. The whole book feels like a dream. Of course, I still haven't finished it, so hold out for my final verdict.

Also, the number of bizarre alien beasts that have been mentioned or shown got me thinking: It might be fun to, eventually, make our own "bestiary of the cosmos", with pages on various OSS creatures of note, and illustrations if we can get them. Something for the future, anyway.

Reply from Zendexor:

Dreamlike literature is my cup of tea!  As are classic movies!  In their different ways, the Barsoom books and MacDonald's Phantastes and Lilith all have that inner glow of dream, which allows all sorts of GAWI to be successful.

A bestiary page would be a great asset to the site.  Reminds me of my related wish to have a Gazeteer page one day.  I suppose they could be built up gradually, with an item added every week...  maybe in a couple of years I'll have the time!  The Gazeteer page would have items like your Chill on Beautiful Iskar, though the items could be shorter - a description of such-and-such a city, for example, with brief advice to the tourist ("Do not bother to speak to the people on the roofs of Manator - they're all stuffed"; "Qulun on Pluto is built of ice blocks - no central heating available")... 

Note to all readers: for anyone who wants to start contributing to this kind of project - bestiary, gazeteer, or whatever - I can make space on the site for it.

2018 November 17th:   


From Dylan Jeninga:   

Another set of leads I'd forgotten - the Dig Allen series! Six books with the following titles:

  1. The Forgotten Star (1959)
  2. Captives in Space (1960)
  3. Journey to Jupiter (1961)
  4. Trappers of Venus (1961)
  5. Robots of Saturn (1962)
  6. Lost City of Uranus (1962)

Promising sounding, at least. Whether or not they be worthy reads, only the time-scryers of Sycorax know, but I'm curious to hear your two bits.

Reply from Zendexor:   

First thoughts on the subject: the obscurity of these books could either be a bad sign (they don't deserve fame) or a very good sign (tip of the iceberg; huge wealth of reading matter waiting out there, more than one can ever hear of except by accident).  As for the titles, they don't come any better, especially the last two.

Following your email I've looked at the "Dig Allen Space Explorer's Home Page" (https://www.tomswift.info/homepage/indexa.html) and I am a little perturbed to find that the series didn't sell well, despite having attracted the sort of loyal following which would indicate that it's well worth reading.  (A review on Amazon of The Lost City of Uranus is very favourable.  Watch out, though - it contains a spoiler.)  All this tends to suggest that the comforting idea, that good stuff will always eventually succeed in the market, may not be true.

In other words, though we may have spotted the tip of an iceberg of fine quality, there's a danger that it will all melt away and be forgotten.  That's a terrible thought.  I used to assume that, ever since the invention of printing, the survival of all worthwhile literature was assured.  Now, doubts are creeping in.

We need a billionnaire philanthropist publisher to resurrect abandoned titles...

(Incidentally, having checked online, I can report that the Joseph Greene who wrote Dig Allen and who died in 1990, is not just a variant spelling of the Joseph Green who wrote The Loafers of Refuge and Gold the Man, and who, according to Wikipedia, is still alive.)

2018 November 14th:   


From Zendexor:

Reading Into Your Tent, the 2010 biography of Eric Frank Russell by John Ingham, I came across references (on pages 105 and 213) to two Russell stories which sound worth watching out for, from the OSS point of view.

The Prr-r-eet (Tales of Wonder, June 1937) features a creature from the Asteroid Belt.  The Big Dark (World Youth, Jan 1952) features a creature from Saturn's moon Rhea.

Asteroidal beings are rare enough in the literature, but beings from the smaller moons of Saturn are rarer still!  It's surprising but true, that I can quote more tales giving accounts of life on the Uranian moons, than those which do the same for the Saturnian ones - except, of course, for that relatively popular destination, Titan.

2018 November 13th:   

From Dylan Jeninga:  


I wonder if you're familiar with Into Plutonian Depths and Next Door to the Sun, a pair of novellas by Stanton A. Coblentz. They bookend the Solar System, one on Mercury and one the first known story set on the newly-discovered Pluto. 

Next Door to the Sun is 230 pages long, and Into Plutonian Depths is 199 - that's a fair amount of interplanetary adventure! I don't have them, but they are available online, and it seems that IPD was even reprinted recently.

[re getting through one's reading list]

...In my case, there's the whole of the Space 1889 series of digital novels, official tie-ins to the pen-and-paper adventure game of the same title. I tried the first, Journey to the Heart of Luna, and while it started alright it suddenly detetiorated about halfway through, as if the editor called it quits. However, there are many more, by myriad authors and touching every world spinnin' - including the much-neglected Ceres.  For that reason alone I need to pick the series up again, if I can find it.

There are also some anthologies I'd like. Farewell, Fantastic Venus, The Prince of Mars Returns, Lost Mars and Moonrise are chief among them, and maybe also Something from Mercury

Additionally, there's a few graphic novels made in comedic parody of English colonialism, set in the OSS - The Dr. Grordbort series by Greg Broadmore. The art for these books is really something. I'll include a link to Dr. Grordbort's Bestiary of the Cosmos, a promotional page that sports some wonderful depictions of Venusian wildlife.


Yes, there's plenty to read in the OSS, new and old. It may take the Scribes of Kerberos a while to transcribe it all!

Reply from Zendexor:

I didn't know about Next Door to the Sun - it sounds worth following up.

Into Plutonian Depths is one I've downloaded but haven't read properly yet.  I think I may have used the beginning in one of my Guess The World passages.  I thought the story begins pretty well, actually.  Coblentz disappointed me greatly with his The Moon People, which is quite a let-down from what one expects from such a title, but as we know from many other examples of authors, performance can be very uneven!

...I'm glad to hear that gamesters have their hearts in the right place!  It's a genre I know nothing about.  I can see it could lead to a wealth of good tales.  I hope the Cerians are given good coverage - it's about time!  Perhaps also more material for Guess The World - Open?

I bet the gaming community would be a good source of recruits for the OSS community if they caught on! 

2018 November 8th:   


From Dylan Jeninga:

I bought Radiance and dove in, and, while I can't say yet if it's good, I will say that it's extraordinary. One of the most unique science fiction novels I've ever encountered, OSS and Old Hollywood and a character piece all baked into one mesmerizing cake. We start with narration, then transition to a script for a documentary, then a transcript of characters talking about writing a film, then we inhabit the world of the film they discussed- and it all flows smoothly. And wonderful descriptions and cluffs! Uranian cities of bioluminescent glass, Martian cowboys, scarlet Venusian beaches... everybody gets around by cannon, Jules Verne style. It's a singular book. I hope it lives up to the first few chapters.

2018 November 5th:

From Dylan Jeninga:

I've just ordered what I believe is a NOSS book. I mentioned it earlier, it's called Radiance, and as far as I can tell it includes not only the Moon but perhaps a watery Neptune as well - I've tried to avoid spoiling it for myself.  All I know for certain is that it's set in the 1920's, with proper art-deco tickets, and stars a woman who makes documentaries....